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Top 10 Most Controversial Movies

Jamie Frater . . . Comments

Every once in a while a film arrives which causes great controversy around the world, and in some cases, the film ends up being banned. This is a list of the top ten films that have caused controversy – and, in fact, many of them are still controversial to this day.

10. Last Tango in Paris [Bernardo Bertolucci, 1972]

The Story: While looking for an apartment, Jeanne, a beautiful young Parisienne, encounters Paul, a mysterious American expatriate mourning his wife’s recent suicide. Instantly drawn to each other, they have a stormy, passionate affair, in which they do not reveal their names to each other. Their relationship deeply affects their lives, as Paul struggles with his wife’s death and Jeanne prepares to marry her fiance, Tom, a film director making a cinema-verite documentary about her.

The Controversy: Critics and audiences were sharply divided over this X-rated erotic psychodrama. The film’s stark (as in naked) depiction of loveless, animalistic carnality horrified some — and landed its director and stars in an Italian court on obscenity charges.

Buy it at Amazon

You might like one of Bertolucci’s more recent films, like the 2003 film The Dreamers at Amazon.com!

9. Natural Born Killers [Oliver Stone, 1994]

The Story: The misadventures of Mickey and Mallory: outcasts, lovers, and serial killers. They travel across Route 666 conducting psychadelic mass-slaughters not for money, not for revenge, just for kicks. Glorified by the media, the pair become legendary folk heroes; their story told by the single person they leave alive at the scene of each of their slaughters.

The Controversy: Though intended as a satire on the media, the film actually inspired several copycat killers to seek their own 15 minutes of fame, some even using imagery and dialogue from the film. Over 12 murders in the U.S. and abroad have been linked to Killers. One victim’s family tried to sue Stone and Warner Bros.

Buy it at Amazon

8. The Birth of a Nation [D W Griffith, 1915]

The Story: Two brothers, Phil and Ted Stoneman, visit their friends in Piedmont, South Carolina: the family Cameron. This friendship is affected by the Civil War, as the Stonemans and the Camerons must join up opposite armies. The consequences of the War in their lives are shown in connection to major historical events, like the development of the Civil War itself, Lincoln’s assassination, and the birth of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Controversy: The film’s depiction of African Americans as childlike, conniving, or rabid sex fiends, and the Ku Klux Klan as heroic saviors, sparked nationwide protests by the nascent NAACP. (It also became a KKK recruiting tool.) Censorship debates and protests have dogged the film in subsequent rereleases and when it was added to the National Film Registry in 1993.

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7. The Last Temptation of Christ [Martin Scorsese, 1988]

The Story: The carpenter Jesus of Nazareth, tormented by the temptations of demons, the guilt of making crosses for the Romans, pity for men and the world, and the constant call of God, sets out to find what God wills for him. But as his mission nears fulfillment, he must face the greatest temptation: the normal life of a good man. Based, not on the Gospels, but on Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel of the same name.

The Controversy: Religious fundamentalists picketed and threatened boycotts weeks before its release. One group offered to buy the $6.5 million film from Universal to destroy it; some theaters, and later Blockbuster, refused to carry it. Oh, and the French rioted.

Buy it at Amazon

6. JFK [Oliver Stone, 1991]

The Story: Details the actions of New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who takes it upon himself to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, in 1963. Garrison is extremely suspicious of the official story presented by the FBI, and what he already knows and what he subsequently learns lead him to suspect that there is more to the story than the public is being told.

The Controversy: Some saw Stone’s documentary-on-steroids-like interpretation of those theories as lending them a certain patina of truth — raising fears that moviegoers would construe it as bona fide history. One result: a 1992 congressional act to release classified documents (which revealed nothing).

Buy it at Amazon

Have more questions about the Kennedy foul play? Get the book The Hidden History of the JFK Assassination at Amazon.com!

5. Deep Throat [Gerard Damiano, 1972]

The Story: Linda, frustrated that her hugely energetic sex life leaves her unsatisfied, seeks medical help. The doctor informs her that the reason for her problem is that her clitoris is mistakenly located at the back of her throat – but there is a very simple remedy, which the doctor, and various other men, proceed to demonstrate…

The Controversy: Intellectuals championed the film for striking a blow for First Amendment rights, while conservative leaders got it banned in many places and put Reems on trial for obscenity charges. Lovelace herself later denounced the film, claiming that while filming “there was a gun to my head.”

Buy it at Amazon

4. Fahrenheit 9/11 [Michael Moore, 2004]

The Story: In this film, muckraker Michael Moore turns his eye on George W. Bush and his War on Terrorism agenda. He illustrates his argument about how this failed businessman with deep connections to the royal house of Saud of Saudia Arabia and the Bin Ladins got elected on fraudulent circumstances and proceeded to blunder through his duties while ignoring warnings of the looming betrayal by his foreign partners.

The Controversy: The documentary lit the fuse of right-wing America, detonating protests and hate campaigns to ban it (no dice). Moore was the first to break the post-9/11 moratorium on Bush bashing and set off a season of brutal smack-downs among the Bill O’Reillys and Keith Olbermanns of the world.

Buy it at Amazon

3. Salò [Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1975]

The Story: Set in the Nazi-controlled, northern Italian state of Salo in 1944, four dignitaries round up sixteen perfect specimens of youth and take them together with guards, servants and studs to a palace near Marzabotto. In addition, there are four middle-aged women: three of whom recount arousing stories whilst the fourth accompanies on the piano. The story is largely taken up with their recounting the stories of Dante and De Sade: the Circle of Manias, the Circle of Shit and the Circle of Blood. Following this, the youths are executed whilst each libertine takes his turn as voyeur.

The Controversy: The film caused outrage throughout the world when it was released in 1975, and has proved a hot potato for film certification boards. In Britain, the first cinema to screen an uncut version of the film in 1977 was raided by police. A heavily cut version was shown until six years ago, when the British Board of Film Classification agreed to reclassify the movie.

Buy it at Amazon

2. A Clockwork Orange [Stanley Kubrick, 1971]

The Story: In a futuristic Britain, a gang of teenagers go on the rampage every night, beating and raping helpless victims. After one of the boys quells an uprising in the gang, they knock him out and leave him for the police to find. He agrees to try “aversion therapy” to shorten his jail sentence. When he is eventually let out, he hates violence, but the rest of his gang members are still after him.

The Controversy: That the movie first landed an X rating and was deemed pornographic across the U.S. was nothing compared with its reception in the U.K.: Social uproar and reports of copycat crimes led Kubrick to withdraw Clockwork from distribution in his adopted country. It wasn’t officially available there again — in theaters or on video — until 2000, a year after his death.

Buy it at Amazon

1. The Passion of the Christ [Mel Gibson, 2004]

The Story: The Passion of The Christ focusses on the last twelve hours of Jesus of Nazareth’s life. The film begins in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus has gone to pray after sitting the Last Supper. Jesus must resist the temptations of Satan. Betrayed by Judas Iscariot, Jesus is then arrested and taken within the city walls of Jerusalem where leaders of the Pharisees confront him with accusations of blasphemy and his trial results in a condemnation to death.

The Controversy: Gibson’s intention was to produce an unflinching depiction of Christ’s suffering on behalf of mankind. What resulted, however, was the ignition of a culture-war firestorm unrivaled in Hollywood history. For months prior to its release, The Passion was both denounced and defended sight unseen amid reports that the film wasn’t just brutal, but compromised by anti-Semitic sentiment. Gibson refused to let concerned parties view and vet his self-financed film.

Buy it at Amazon

Notable others: Cannibal Holocaust

Sources: Entertainment Weekly, IMDB, the Guardian

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Jamie Frater

Jamie is the owner and chief-editor of Listverse. He spends his time working on the site, doing research for new lists, and collecting oddities. He is fascinated with all things historic, creepy, and bizarre.

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  • rp: thanks for the mention of that film – it certainly does seem to still be banned. Now I want to see it! I have added it to the notable others section.

    • Danzik

      I have recently found the movie uncut (On youtube. You’d think it would be banned there.) and I must say, It is certainly graphic. Some scenes I question the need (Such as the infamous turtle scene, or the slicing of the monkeys face, which took 2 tries to get correct). Honest opinion, It was an alright film, but I’d say the most controversial part in my opinion is it’s length in it’s most vile scenes, so when watching it, get ready to watch that horrible scene for 6-12 minutes straight. Here’s a link! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErnHx2kqYHU&feature=related

  • rp

    Cannibal Holocaust almost got its director thrown in jail and, I believe, is still banned in several countries.

  • RobS

    Why did the French riot, re: The Last Temptation of Christ?
    Was it their turn?

    • mischasimpson

      They are French

    • Corbo

      The French didn’t riot. What happened was: a group of christian fanatics set fire to some cinemas in a couple of cities, succeeding only in killing some people.

  • Kelsi

    My friend purchased Cannibal Holocaust at FYE. It’s not banned (here, now), but it is definately controversial.

  • RobS: it is always the French’s turn to riot – they are experts :)

    kelsi: Have you seen it? I wonder how it compares to Salo – I watched some clips of that on youtube yesterday and it turned my stomach – disgusting.

  • Bill Coffin

    Another cool list. I would add as a notable exception “Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story.” It is one of the very few films – if not the only one currently – that is actually banned in the United States. It is a fairly creepy biography of Karen Carpenter using nothing more than Barbie daolls to act out all of the parts. The ban stems from legal action taken against the film-maker for things he insinuated in the film about the rest of the Carpenter family, if memory serves. almost nobody saw this film, but it stands out for its outlaw status.

  • Bill: I have heard of a Carpenters film being banned – I guess that must be it. I liked the one about her life which did make it to TV.

  • Che

    The French didn’t riot when this came out – most of them yawned if i remember correctly.
    A couple of fundamentalists did fire-bomb a cinema screening it though. A terrorist act, surely, a riot? I think not.

    Archive news footage (in french)

    Sorry about the ridiculously long link.

  • che: thanks for that :)

  • Midian

    I own both Cannibal Holocaust and Salo, and I do agree that CH should be on ethis list.

    the director was forced into court and made re create every death scene to prove it wasnt real

    Amazingly enough he used only material that was available to him in the jungle. the infamous ‘impaled woman’ was done with nothing more then a hallow stick and a bike seat.

    CH is a very rich story and commentary on how we in ‘civil’ view ourselves in comparison to other less advanced cultures. Where as Salo is mainly shock value.

  • i think Flowers of Flesh and Blood ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0161635/ ) should be on the list.

    After viewing a portion of this film, actor Charlie Sheen was convinced the murder depicted was genuine and contacted the MPAA, who then contacted the FBI. FBI agent Dan Codling informed them that the FBI and the Japanese authorities were already investigating the film makers, who were forced to prove that the special effects were indeed fake.

  • Midian

    Really? Flowers Of Flesh And Blood? I’ve never seen it but I’ve seen a few others from the series.

    They are all very over the top arent they?

  • Midian:I felt sick watching clips from Salo – would I cope with Cannibal Holocaust?

    inanytime: that is an amazing story. Do you have any citations to verify Sheen’s action?

  • Midian

    jfrater: it was hard for me to get through Salo as well, not so much because it was shocking but because it is very boring, CH however I feel is a sort of masterpiece.

    Give it a look, the gore is very intense, it also has real animal torture and murder. I think youd be able to cope with it, if only for a one time viewing. haha

  • Midian: what a recommendation! I will see if I can find a copy and check it out :) Thanks.

  • billy

    You can get Superstar: Karen Carpenter at Google video.

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=622130510713940545

  • billy: brilliant – thanks!

  • Charles Everett

    Another one that has been banned for sale here in the US is Song of the South (by Disney). In it, supposedly, slavery is glorified, which was why it was banned. Of course, it was Disney, so things were not depicted as brutally as slavery was, but, more importantly, the movie was set in post-Civil War America, so there wouldn’t have been any slavery to glorify/not glorify to begin with. Great animation with live action, and a true classic. It really is a bit of a shame it has such a bad rap.

  • Charles Everett – thank you for mentioning that – I will see if I can find a copy – it sounds interesting.

  • Hobolad

    No “Freaks”?

  • jay

    SCUM is also one, 1977 in the UK I think, included a full male child rape scene and suicide. Much controversy at the time. Good film actually.

  • Hobolad: I haven’t seen Freaks – I will try to find a copy.

    Jay: Scum is a great film – well worth the mention.

  • jay

    I forgot – Once Were Warriors. Again, great film.

  • jay: great film!

  • dave4248

    “The Passion of the Christ” that was weird, to say the least. I’ve read all new testament accounts of Jesus’ passion and it isn’t anything like TPOTC. The movie was ten times more gory.

  • dave4248: The Passion of the Christ was not based on the Gospels alone – it was also based upon Catholic visionary saints from the Middle Ages – Saints who have the approbation of the Church (thus for the majority of Christians in the world) – to be expected considering that Mel Gibson is a very staunch Catholic.

    • xanthina

      Please remember, not all Christians believe in the Catholic (Catholic/Anglican/Episcopalian) model.

      • Benhamine

        He was merely stating why the film may differ from the Gospels. As it was told by a man who is a Catholic one would expect the film to be told based on Catholic’s beliefs.

  • september78

    i think men behind the sun pretty much fits into the cannibal holocaust description. there have been rumours that at least one scene was filmed with an actual corpse. it tells the story of gruesome experiments (like dr. mengele of auschwitz concentration camps did) from a japanese perspective with the Nanking massacre as a background. turns my stomach to even think about this one.

  • SoCal Tom

    “I Am Curious – Yellow” should make your list due to its controversial premise. And it was considered pornographic because it contained nudity and a simulated oral sex act.

    “I Am Curious – Blue” was intended as a sequel, but is a bit more fun.

    http://worldfilm.about.com/cs/scandinavianfilm/fr/iamcurious.htm

    I believe both films are available through Criterion.

  • SoCal Tom: thanks for mentioning them – I haven’t seen either of the two so I will definitely add it to my (ever growing) list of recommended films :)

  • luckyaz

    when i first saw "birth of a nation" years ago, i did not know what it was. my history/social studies teacher came in the classroom and asked the class, "have any of you seen 'birth of a nation'?" a few other students raise their hands. he told them to keep quiet about the movie. he put the movie on, at first, i could not really understand it, but as it kept going on, the message of the movie became clear. the superiority of the aryan race. 1915 was a time of racial changes in the south. the major majority of the united states population was white. african-american and other races were not ever 5% combined the population. this movie was accepted by white southerners on the basis of truth, while it was largely ignored by northern white men too busy runnin their businesses and making cities like new york and chicago into the metropolis they are today. when african-americans protested in 1915, it was largely shrugged off, as a midget protest in new york city would be shrugged of today as a joke. my how times have changed, have this vile of a film been released today, people would have lost their jobs, d.w. griffith would have recieved so many death threats to himself and his familiy's life that he would have had to either cancel the release of the movie of release it strictly overseas. but, you were right frater, we cannot ignore history or we will be doomed to repeat it. while this movie may only be viewed with heroism with rednecks from texas to viginia, the content of this film should serve as a reminder to the future of this great country, for as long as ignorance is allowed to roam free, so will this film remain as timeless as the holy book, to those who allow ignorance to prevail.

    • ToneRowes

      *Virginia. Normally, I wouldn’t correct people on spelling mistakes, but it looked like you needed it.

    • I can’t believe there are so few posts on this list and it’s been around so long. This is an excellent list! Thanks for tossing in the explanation of why it was controversial and what some of the consequences were.

  • phil

    I would have to say Cannibal Holocaust definitely should be on this list. Blurring the lines with reality with some great “acting”, animal mutilation can see why director got locked up.

  • Mount Teetar

    luckaz…. glorifying the clan for oppressing and terrifying black people… that’s almost as bad as holding six kids up as heroes of the black community for commiting a hate crime by beating the crap out of a white kid jsut because he was white. The only diference is that one was a movie, and the other was in real life! Thank goodness for apologists like yourself to make sure that white people aer percieved as spineless and non-threatening.

    • Benhamine

      I don’t believe he was condoning the views of the film, but expressing the importance of the film as a piece of history; as a sort of view into the mindset of that time for those people.

  • Tomo

    I think ‘Waterworld’ and ‘Battlefield: Earth’ should be on this list.

    The Controversy: Both film incited movie-goers worldwide to want to kill Kevin Costner and John Travolta and anyone who had anything to do with making of those films!

  • lightningclash

    Mount teetar: Didn’t that kid provoke his attack by hanging nooses on a tree in a courtyard? I’m white and I would’ve kicked the shit out of that redneck bastard!

  • lightningclash

    Here’s the wikipedia version of that story. The Jena Six.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jena_Six
    read, the kid was asking for it.

  • devilishgrin66

    lightningclash – “he was asking for it”…are you shitting me?..isn’t that what rapist’s use as a defense for their rapes? ‘i’m sorry your honor, she was wearing a tight skirt so she was asking for it?’

    that has to be the biggest load of crap ever, and completely regardless, you can steal a man’s wife, get him fired from his job, make his kids hate him and just about anything else to someone but if he shoot’s and kills you its still murder, it doesn’t matter what you did to them…

  • lightningclash

    I don't completely agree with what these six people did. It's wrong to attack somebody, I will admit. BUT hanging nooses from a tree is a HATE crime. These white kids were the majority in this particular high school. This is a form of racial bullying if you ask me. Racism makes me sick and I'm sorry if it's wrong, but I have to cheer for these six kids. It's great to see them stand up against the bullying white kids and give them a taste of their own medicine.

    • Topa

      Don’t neglect that racism is universal. The act which those six kids committed was just as much racial bullying as hanging nooses. A kid hanged nooses, so he gets killed for it? And you excuse it by saying it was a taste of their own medicine? Even calling it “great”? That’s racism right there.

      • Nikki

        I have to agree racism goes both ways. To me I feel like that people tend to excuse black people for it and that they get by with it a lot easier than white people do now. Which is not fair! If that situation had of been the other way around no one would of been saying that the kid asked for it. If the kid has been black and did something considered racial bullying and 5 white boys killed him, then it wouldn’t of mattered what the black kid did in the first place. No one would dare say he was asking for it. So just goes to show you how things have definitely changed. When a guy goes in and shoots up a school b/c he was bullied by the kids, and he kills those kids that bullied him, do we say Oh, well those kids deserved it? No..What I am afraid is going to happen is that one day soon white people are going to end up being black people 50-60 years ago. Is anything ever going to be equal? I mean for goodness sakes we have a black president now. How can people still want to play the race card all the time?

  • Rolad

    Fando y Lis is another very controversial movie. It caused riots in Mexico.

  • Whig

    *lightningclash*

    probably too late, and is off-topic – but the kid who was beaten in the `Jena Six’ case had nothing to do with an ALLEGED hanging of a rope from a tree – which is not proven to have happened.

    This whole `Jena Six’ issue was just the left-wing noise machine attempting to drown out the blowback from the Duke rape case (another product of the left-wing noise machine) – and successfully, as it turns out.

    So no, no one ever `provokes’ a near-deadly assault on themsleves, no matter what they did or didn’t do previously.

  • Earnest Iconoclast

    The controversy behind Fahrenheit 9/11 was not that it was a Bush-bashing film (many on the Right bash Bush), the problem is that it was full of lies and misleading information.

  • Stoner Boi

    I think that Pretty Baby (1978)is in my opinion the most controversial movie. This is movie that, shocked and p!ssed a lot of people off in the late 70's (People are still trying to ban it today) Staring Brooke Shields and Susan Sarandon.

    plot outline: 1917, the last months of legal prostitution in Storyville – New Orleans' red-light district. Hattie, a prostitute at the elegant home of Madame Nell, and her 12-year-old daughter Violet are the only ones awake with photographer Ernest J. Bellocq comes by with his camera. He takes pictures of Hattie and he fascinates Violet. Over the next few months, Nell arranges for the auction of Violet's virginity, Hattie marries and goes to St. Louis leaving Violet behind, and Violet determines to marry Bellocq. Is this idyllic or is she just a girl wearing rouge, soon to return to childhood?

    ***Warning this is a very Graphic movie***

    • brooke99infiniti

      Yes I think “Pretty Baby” should of been on this list, along with “Bastard out of Carolina”, the abuse physical and sexual, in that movie on a very young child were graphic and shocking. Another movie that some people found shocking was “Lolita”, the original as well as the remake, but to me Pretty Baby and BOOC were worse b/c the victims were a lot younger. You have a 10 or so year old in PB and BOOC compared to a 14-15 year old in Lolita. However all of them are pretty shocking!

  • Katie

    Why no “Midnight Cowboy”? First “X” rated movie to win an Oscar.

  • Bwap

    Lolita. Death Race 2000. Rollerball. Fight Club.

    There are plenty more; limiting the list to 10 was a mistake.

  • Mark

    Passion of the Christ is hardly the most controversial movie ever. Did it cause riots? No. Birth of a Nation did. I say move Birth of a Nation to the top!

  • colin

    great list Jamie, well done, once again:)

    i expected da Vinci Code to be on, but after reading this list, i see why it isn’t…

  • colin

    you’re hardcore baby…

  • Silva

    I think Zeitgeist Movie is along the same lines as Fahrenheit but a lot more controversial.

  • Silva

    Can be found at zeitgeistmovie.com. sorry, should have been with first post

  • dustin

    lolita

  • Maheahlaurus

    Salo is pretty boring. The parts that are not boring are horrendous. The interesting thing about this film is it’s political, not sexual and the director was killed shortly after it’s completion. Considering the ending looks too real for words, makes you wonder about his untimely death. Salo was the first in a trilogy that was never completed because of Pasolini’s death.

    The Criterion Collection is releasing this film…again. God knows why anyone would want to pay money for it. It’s easier to get a bootleg copy offline.

  • ?

    I think this list is for controversial films that caused something, Cannibal Holocaust is banned yes, but it didn’t apparently start a media firestorm and backlash of real human protests and copycat crimes, after all the director of ‘Salo’ was brutally murdered. ‘Irreversible’ is one of the most disturbing and hard to watch films of all time. But controversy is not the same thing as disturbing, unflinching, and hard to watch. Controversy is about protests and media firestorms. Cannibal Holocaust is on the top 10. disturbing side. But hell another version of this list had ‘Song of the South’ and ‘Pink Flamingos’ as the top most controversial ; even a film like ‘Kids’. There are numerous films that have caused an uproar. ‘A Clockwork Orange’ / ‘Salo’ and ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ appear on almost every incarnation of a list like this, CH is interchangeable with ‘Song of the South’ / ‘I am Curious’ and many others, depending on who is writing the list. CH was brought into court. And Monica Bellucci apparently at press junkets for ‘Irreversible’ had to explain to press that she wasn’t raped. (Although that doesn’t make it controversial just graphic and disturbing, *amazing compelling unflinching film though* I never remember reading any protesting) There is a list somewhere online somewhere of the top 100 most controversial and CH is in that one’s top 10 plus many more that would deserve the same either way. And Salo is no less shock value than any other noted film. It’s survived for so long under the guise of compelling and not shocking the same as the Marquis de Sade’s work has, most consider it pornography, other’s reel satire. + no one sells shirts from Salo to sensationalize the disturbing factor as they have of Cannibal Houlocaust branding it in the shock value category even if it really isn’t. The same difference with ‘American Psycho’ the novel. Films like this are meant to mean something deeper than shock value. ‘The Last House on the Left’ (Virgin Spring in the Vietnam era

  • Crayon Monster

    Salo isn’t worth seeing read the books it’s easier to understand the sexual metaphors but all in all it’s just graphic pointless to watch and dated

  • GoLightly

    Nobody mentioned Caligula!!

  • D

    Caligula!!
    There
    It’s been mentioned, now what?

  • diogenes

    I watched Salo with my mum.
    Really, I did.
    The guy at the video store was impressed.
    And that’s really what it’s all about isn’t it? Impressing the guy at the video store.
    I didn’t think Salo was boring.
    What’s that Polish filmaker that had a scene with guests at a dinner table making themselves puke what they had just eaten and re-eating it?
    Truely disgusting.
    Dusan Makavejev, that’s his name. I had to look it up.

    Mondo Cane was a legendary controversial movie.. and quite a hit in its day. I believe the score won at the oscars. The Cane Movies may have lead to the “Faces of Death” videos.
    Controversial, confrontational, picking at scabs or going into areas that are deamed as “outside the norm”ect
    Makes me think of Borat. that also got a nod and had a large effect on the U.S. film crowd. How did Borat do worldwide? I know leaders of Kazakhstan were pissed off..
    Or how Jackass made mainstream cinema before Borat. MTV.
    How difficult is controversy today?
    It seems , at certain times, like anything fringe or disturbing is welcome fodder for the masses, because entertainment culture is inundated with overused and unoriginal imagery bombardment. It’s not only with entertainment, but with individual attempts at “enlightened” existence
    Blah blah
    ect.

  • diogenes

    p.s.
    I see Mondo Cane was nominated for Best Music, Original Song at OSCARS,
    and best score at GRAMMYS

    but really who cares?

  • colander

    i think my number one pic would be DA VINCI’S CODE

    it was band for some countries… and it was really criticized so much…

  • Ash

    Good list
    Deep Throat sounds vile…

    I definately think Nekromantik should be here
    A German banned film about a guy who cleans up after road traffic accidents
    Whenever he sees a corpse that he 'likes' he takes it home for he and his wife to have threesomes with

    I actually watched it and it is rather vile and VERY graphic.

    Also at the end, he kills the cat and takes a bath in it's blood for some reason

    • Shane13

      Wow..that’s really it…i’m going to check on this one!

  • Child_Abuser

    i expected to see the davinchi code up their.

  • 0m3g413

    @ #39 Whig
    In response to, “So no, no one ever `provokes’ a near-deadly assault on themsleves, no matter what they did or didn’t do previously.”
    Every person who was ever executed for a crime they actually committed ‘provoked’ an actually-deadly assault on themselves. In addition, many people throughout history ‘provoked’ assaults on their person which were deadly or nearly so by posing a legitimate threat to the safety of the ‘provoked’ individual. As an example, an armed individual breaking into one’s home would almost certainly be seen, by an objective observer, as the intruder provoking an assault upon themselves by the resident.

  • gabi

    I’m adding my vote to Da Vince Code. My roommate and his gf were going to watch it the week it came out but the crowd of protesters was insane. About a month or so later, my sister and I went to watch it and the film stopped two minutes in. …turned out it was a blackout but with the religious zealots in our edge of the bible belt, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they commandeered the film room.

  • Daratora

    yeah i was thinking the da vinci code too

  • James Mason

    Its a shame you missed Caligula off the list/

  • Whig

    no. 60 –

    in response to the following:

    *Every person who was ever executed for a crime they actually committed ‘provoked’ an actually-deadly assault on themselves.*

    Putting someone to death legally (which I oppose btw) is no way a legal definition of `deadly assault’…

    *In addition, many people throughout history ‘provoked’ assaults on their person which were deadly or nearly so by posing a legitimate threat to the safety of the ‘provoked’ individual.*

    I’m glad you used `provoked’ in quotes; for, if someone is kiled in such a defence, it is in fact `legitimate self-defence’, not provocation to deadly assault.

    *As an example, an armed individual breaking into one’s home would almost certainly be seen, by an objective observer, as the intruder provoking an assault upon themselves by the resident.*

    but in fact, many countries outlaw such reasonable self-defence; the defence of `provocation’, here as elsewhere, has no place.

    my comment was on the malarkey being spread around about the so-called `Jena Six’: namely, that the victim `provoked’ the assault on himself.

    First, the victim did not hang the noose from the tree (an allegation which only came to light after the assault), no one said he did; and second, i hardly think such an action is provocative of deadly assault.

  • niloc41

    Has anyone seen Baisse Moi? It was released in Sydney, Australia for about a week before being banned. It had a Thelma and Louise theme but the similarity ended there as the two main leads went on a murderous road trip killing and having full on sex. Very disturbing but kind of exciting too.

  • Mark

    65. niloc41 : Yeah, I’ve seen that. Got some laughs out of me actually…

  • Marcus Killerby

    I second Last House On The Left, aswell as American Psycho.

    What about I Spit On Your Grave?

    And more recently the all around terrible Five Across The Eyes. Maybe not controversial yet, but it is bound to be in the near future.

    One more addition – David Cronnenberg’s Crash.

  • Jordan

    United 93

  • Eric

    i am a filipino though a protestant, i live in a catholic country. the reason that the #1 film on the list got controversial is because HOLLYWOOD IS VERY MUCH INFILTRATED BY THE JEWS. AND A FILM DEPICTING THEIR OWN INTOLERANCE GREATLY UPSETS THEM BEING A VICTIM OF ANOTHER INTOLERANCE. it is greatly written in the christian bible that it was the jewish high priest that conspired to kill jesus. WHEN A MOVIE OR A STATEMENT ARE DIRECTED AGAINST JEWS THEY ARE VERY MUCH QUICK TO COMPLAIN SAYING ITS RACISM AND ANTI-SEMITISM. WHEN A NOVEL WRITTEN BY AN STUPID WRITER WAS TURNED INTO A MOVIE… HINT, HINT, DA VINCI CODE… THEY ACCUSE THE CHURCH OF CENSORSHIP.

    i am not white… my race dont have any historical ties with the jews. well i am probably safe if i say the jews are hypocrites! guess what… my country… my race, so with the chinese and koreans were persecuted by the japs on WWII. but you dont see us rallying against films like Empire of the Sun or Letters From Iwo Jima who humanize the monstrosity that the japanese soldiers commited.

  • phil

    i had canniball holocaust, didn`t bother me at all ;)

    • Hi Mom

      oookaaay…

  • Boo

    @ Eric (69) The Jews WERE hypocrites when they crucifed Jesus. From what I know, Jews still don’t belive He is the Son of God. I’m a Baptist & I keep an open mind (surprisingly), and I agree that it’s stupid when people riot over movies that are “racist”. “The Passion Of The Christ” was a DEPICTION, nothing against ANYONE. What pisses me off is that people support sick shytt, but they’re against anything religious cuz they think they’ll be judged. It’s like “HELLO! YOU’RE GONNA GET JUDGED BY PEOPLE NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO!!!” Am I right or am I right?

  • Nick Namoff

    why is The Passion of the Christ the most controversial on this list? Just because its Christian?

  • Boo

    @ Nick(72), The Passion Of The Christ is most controversial (my guess) probably because people have had heart attacks while watching it. No joke. That and because Hollywood didn’t want a Jesus movie.

  • Nick Namoff

    @ Boo, I hadn’t heard of people having heart attacks, let alone dying. But looks like there were a few of those as well. Thats bizarre. Makes me wonder if those people were prepared for what they were going to see, or if they assumed it was a nice Christian movie for the whole family.

  • Mark

    A Clockwork Orange, the last film given the X-rating to be nominated for an an Oscar.

    God I love Stanley :D

  • Troy McClure

    Borat

  • freecontroversy

    Watch all the Top Most CONTROVERSIAL Movies at
    http://freecontroversy.wordpress.com/top-most-controversial-movies/

    Thanks!

  • DrGiggles

    I think salo really should have been 2 then 3. I was more shocked by that then clockwork orange.

  • Roman

    Liliana Cavani’s The Night Porter should be on this list

  • Chris

    The movie “Seed” by Uwe Boll is probably the worst I’ve seen. It shows actual timelapse footage of a baby starving, suffering, screaming and decomposing in a cell. It also shows disturbing torture scenes that make the biggest horror fans depressed as hell. Watch it at your own risk, it really screws with your head. He really crossed a line with this one. And that’s coming from someone that loves the Saw movies and Hostel.

  • Random_TH

    @ Eric (69) Letters from Iwo Jima didn’t exactly humanize what the Japanese did it was more about an already defeated bunch of soldiers dragged into the war and forced to face overwhelming numbers. Anyways calling them ‘japs’ is being racist in itself considering how it was used in WWII.

  • Alan

    Triumph of the Will, The Exorcist, Psycho, Rosemary’s Baby, Apocalypse Now, Citizen Kane, Bonnie & Clyde, The Crying Game, Platoon, Wall Street, The Godfather, Gone With the Wind, Doctor Strangelove, The Great Dictator, Blazing Saddles, Blow-Up, 2001 A Space Odyssey, The Wild Bunch, Taxi Driver.

    Time for a second list.

  • Cara

    Couple things. @Boo, gonna say this once. Just because your religion believes in Jesus, doesn’t mean jews do. Actually, we believe he existed but nothing about him being the son of God or Mesiah. Doesn’t mean we’re hypocrites. TYVM. And to whoever made the comment about Lolita: the book was controversial. The film really wasn’t. Films make the girl look older than 12.

  • Bodd

    As I recall, Kevin Smith spoke of Catholics mildly protesting ‘Dogma’. Not enough to make this list, but he tells a really funny story about it. He went to one of the protests posing as an angry Catholic, sign and everything, and was interviewed by TV news using a fake name. Hilarious.

  • Aurell

    i thought "rape of nanking" was the most controversial movie derp derp..

  • Hi Mom

    I definetly think "Birth of a Nation" should be taken out of the National Registry. It is highly offensive to African Americans. What if there was a movie of black men raping white women and the black men were potrayed as heroes?

  • Will Trame

    “I Spit On Your Grave” has to be perhaps one of the most controversial movies ever. This flick, along with the “Faces of Death” series, was extremely popular in Europe. The overall gist is that rape is disgusting, and the pic has been mentioned in the comments to the most notorious revenge movies. I believe it’s in the process of being remade.

    Wasn’t there also a movie about Ronald Reagan that got banned from the network? I believe that it starred James Brolin. Has it ever been telecast on cable channels such as HBO or Encore?

  • abby

    Ken Park and Baise-Moi should definately be on this list, both controversial, and both still banned in Australia.
    Also agree that Cannibal Holocaust should be there.

  • Stefan Andjelkovic

    PLEASE EVERYONE WATCH "A SERBIAN MOVIE". THESE MOVIES ARE GINGER BEER COMPARED TO IT!

    • Alex

      I saw “A Serbian Film” and think it should be #1 on this list. It came out in 2010 and is extremely graphic. It shows a baby getting raped and has a scene containing necrophilia. It is extremely controversial. It is filled with sex and nudity.
      But on one hand is also a very good movie. I don’t think the necrophilia or pedophilia was great or should be encouraged but it had a great plot. Once you get past the rape parts its really good. There are shocking parts, funny parts at the beggining and each scene led up to another scene. It also has a great ending. I’m not talking about the suicides but i’m talking about the part where Milos has to rape one of the people on the floor. I don’t think the rape was good but when Marko (the masked man) comes in and gets the other one and Vukmir gets killed by Milos and Petar, Maria, and Milos all leave was a really good scene.
      This movie, while containing extreme sexuality, nudity,violence,drugs and language, is a strong movie. It is the most controversial movie I’ve ever seen, other than A Clockwork Orange. But it also is a fantastic, feeling evoking movie. Whether the feelings evoked are good or bad depend on whether you can get past the rape and sexual violence and receive any of the messages depicted in A Serbian Film.

  • IAMCHUCKNORRIS

    How the he’ll is cannibal holocaust honorable mentions? It should be number one

  • Jaesle

    I'm way behind on this as I just recently discovered this site and just now read this article. One I am amazed to not see on here or even mentioned in the comments in Battle Royale.
    If you are not familiar with it, long story short is: Over populated China, kids boycotting school/crime rates amongst teens high. A law comes into effect that a random 9th grade class (15 year old students) are sent to an island and have 3 days to kill each other off and each recieve a random weapon. It was originally a book, I have the book and the movie on DVD. It really is an amazing movie if you haven't seen it, Tarintino actually said it was his favorite movie of the decade in like 2004.

  • SXENAZ

    LIFE OF BRIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Eric

    The list is okay but the explanations as to the content and controversial elements are about as poor as can be imagined. No insight can be gained from this post.

  • jack biantan

    Da Vinci Code was a controversial book. But the fil was rubbish. I slept halfway through it.

  • Name

    How about Kids? Came out in '95 but still controversial (at the time)

  • Frank N Stein

    Hello mum.

  • Ab

    ‘the hitch’ should join the list

  • mikey

    A Serbian Film 2010

    • Jay

      Such a messed up film I had to post it again below.

  • jp

    kids should for sure be on the list, and I can’t believe no one ever mentioned brown bunny

  • jkl

    co za asy

  • Nick

    No Brüno or Borat???

  • Devvie

    I don’t know if this one was mentioned yet or if it even qualifies but how about “Ken Park”?

  • Jay

    A Serbian Film

  • Private

    I’ve not yet seen The Last Temptation of Christ, but isn’t that the one where Jesus is tempted to not go through with being killed, sees how great life could be if he lives, and then chooses to die for us anyway? Sure, it’s not biblically accurate, but the overall message that he choose to die for us anyway is beautiful to me. I wonder if all the people outraged by the film actually knew how it ended.

    As for the controversy of The Passion, that has always annoyed me. I’m a Jew. I’ve seen the movie twice and am not offended by it in any way. Mel Gibson’s point in making the film was to give a biblically accurate account of Jesus’s death. He can’t just leave the part about the Jews out, because that is in the Bible.

  • Andreas

    Im sorry to report that it appears that all entries in this list is a complete copy/paste work except #3. Saló.
    The story line from each film is copied from imdb.com,
    And the controversy, the “author” copied entries 1-9 from another list: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1202224_4,00.html
    or
    http://hinghamschools.com/HHS/teachers/afennelly/docs/Grade%2012/Modern%20Dilemmas/Most%20controversial%20movies.doc)

    Both links show the same list, but the second link is a document that appears to have been written by students. Dont no when created could been taken from ew.com :)
    entertainment weekly posted the list June 9, 2006.

  • kdawg

    Anti-Christ. Serbian film. Freaks. Pink Flamingos. Should be on the list as well

  • springjack

    Pathetic list of mainstream films posing as controversial. I’d accept Salo and possibly AClockworkOrange, but the rest are ridiculous. Get your folks to turn off you ParentalControls and leave Hollywood in the dustbin before you make a list.

  • jccarnage

    wheres the last house on the left or reservoir dogs?

  • Davey

    Hello and Good Day, my name is Davey. The reason that I’m writing you this is that I am looking for an amateur film maker that would be interested in filming/documenting my planned death. I hate the word suicide, I prefer chosen death.

    My life’s story is something like a jimmy buffet novel written by Stephen King.

    I’ve done alot in my life, and Ive been from riches to rags, to riches to rags. People have the right to chose how to live, shouldn’t we have the right to chose how e die?

    Anyways, if you hear my story for 10 minutes you’d understand where I’m coming from. I’ve lived in Central America for nearly 8 years and have smelled deaths rancid breath several times.

    Currently I’ve been hiding out in a cabin in Honduras where a man has paid people and police to kill me and I figure that when I die it will be my way.

    Well that’s a start,lemme know if you or anybody you know is interested in a real, true life story.

    Thanks for Your Time, Davey

    • shane13

      Heyyy!!!..i don’t know if it’s to late, but i would be interest in do it…..you can let me know i’ll get a notification if you answer here!

  • Gamer_2k4

    I never understood why the Passion of the Christ was considered anti-Semitic. Does it show the Jews being responsible for the crucifixion? Sure. Does the Bible say the exact same thing? Sure does.

    So what’s the problem?

  • Alucard

    I hated Solo. If you really want to experience De Sade, then read “120 Days of Sodom”.

  • Alucard

    I forgot about that abomination. Cannibal Holocaust and Gummo are two of the worst films ever made.

  • Shane9

    I have 2 more for you, they both still banned:
    – The texas chainsaw masacre (1974): The film was rejected by the British film censors in 1975, due to the growing controversy involving ‘video nasties’. In 1999, after the censors finally changed their policy, they took the plunge, and passed it uncut, after 25 years, since they first banned it. The human skeleton in the house at the end of the movie was a real human skeleton, finally was able to be screened in Germany on 2011.
    – A Serbian Film: This movie still actually banned, Banned in Norway on account of sexual representation of children and extreme violence in a fictional medium.
    The film was banned in Brazil but was supposed to be legally screened for the first time in the city of Maceió, Alagoas on a special Cine Sesi dawn screening in October 1, 2011; However, the company was forbidden to exhibit it by a legal action only a day before the screening.
    Also, it was banned from CANNES, they tried to screened on an indie screening before cannes and the person in charge was investigated since this movie is gore and everyone believed it was a snuff movie, also his director had to go to curt for the same reason…sexual explicit, violent, gore, I mean…everything on one movie….

    Have a great day!

  • Bella

    I seem to recall some controversy around the release of Shindlers List.

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